World leaders offered praise as markets turned euphoric yesterday over Europe’s hard-won debt deal to save the euro area and the global economy from recession.
As European Union leaders, often accused of doing too little too late, finally clinched a grand plan to bring the euro back from the brink, markets soared from Hong Kong to New York and the single currency hit a seven-week high against the dollar.
With the global economy stalling, Europe has been under pressure to tame a two-year debt crisis seen spinning out of control in the 17 nations sharing the currency, threatening major economies Italy and Spain.
“The European fix is in,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com after Europe’s leaders emerged from marathon talks with a masterplan including a trillion-euro rescue fund, a new bailout for Greece, and a deal squeezing banks and private investors to share the burden of the debt crisis.
“Market participants appear to be pleased with what they have heard, even though it isn’t exactly a plan where all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed,” he added.
As New York opened higher and London gained almost 3%, China and Japan offered words of support.
President Hu Jintao told French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy that the package boded well to help Europe, China’s leading trade partner, to “stabilise financial markets, overcome difficulties.”
“We have done what needed doing,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Emerging giants China and Russia have vowed to pitch in to Europe’s rescue war-chest as the old continent holds out a hand for help - a notion that raises hackles in some quarters.
There were also words of warning to euro nations to keep their house in order with the new deal - no more back sliding.
“Emerging economies should not be seen as the EU’s good samaritans - in the end the EU has to pull itself out of the crisis,” said China’s official Xinhua news agency.
In Frankfurt, banks poised to take a 50% loss on their Greek debt exposure under the deal, issued a similar message.
“EU leaders have proven they can act,” said the powerful German banking federation BdB. “It is now up to the politicians to keep the pressure on Greece and other troubled eurozone countries to reform.”
US President Barack Obama said the a deal had calmed global markets and that it was now important that the countries follow through on implementation of the agreement.
As talks dragged on for almost 10 hours overnight in Brussels, the last and perhaps toughest chapter was the deal struck with the Institute of International Finance grouping the banks to force private investors to take their share of the debt pain.
In signs of backroom drama, Sarkozy and Merkel broke off from the summit talks to save the day in person by cutting a deal with the head of the banking lobby, Charles Dallara.
The agreement was welcomed as “historic” in Greece as it will slice a whopping 100bn euros off its overwhelming 350bn-euro debt pile.
In addition, eurozone leaders agreed a new Greek bailout to replace a 109bn loan package agreed in July. It would be worth up to 100bn euros until 2014, and should be agreed by the end of the year.
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